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May. 18 2010 - 8:33 pm | 40 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

State of The New News: Spring 2010

Having True/Slant featured in a New York Times Magazine article is an excellent Win for our team, Contributors and Members. The article was thoughtful and represented some of our team’s ideals; I’ll presume the ideals of FasterTimes and Demand Media were also presented well. It’s validating to have our work featured as part of a well-researched and executed piece in The Times. What I’d like to see now are some more conclusions from the main stream regarding the State of the New News: Where do the Media Thinkers feel the journalistic, audience-building and advertiser-interest success stories have been to this point?

There is plenty to go by:

Gawker Media (40MM UVs / month*)
HuffPo (28.5MM)
Politico Group (6MM)
The Daily Beast (3MM)
RealClearPolitics (1.5MM)
True/Slant (1.1MM)
The Awl (276k)

(* All metrics from quantcast.com)

These properties represent tens of millions in (the people formerly known as the) audience every month. They produce a significant amount of content and coverage. And they’re not all solely reliant on banners and ad networks. Outside of their financial aspects*, what I’d like to hear is Media Thinkers’ deeper-dive into their qualitative successes as journalistic, audience-building and “new advertising” endeavors.  What’s the opinion re work done to date? What have we learned re the Best Ways Forward? In my opinion, it’s past time for ambivalence about what the New News might look like – it would be excellent to hear the Media Thinkers recognize some winners and also-rans, pick some directions, place bets and make recommendations.

(* -Understood “outside of financials” leaves gaping holes – we can cover those in other discussions; surely there’s enough to go by regarding models and content, audience and quality.)

The general message of the NYT piece was similar to the ones WSJ and WaPo gave when they covered our initial public launch in April 2009: “this new news outfit looks impressive; who the h*ck knows if what they’re doing makse any sense or will work.” Coverage of other New News startups have had essentially the same message. A year later, my hope is it’s not unreasonable to request some more informed opinion from the big players regarding work accomplished and which are doing Good Things worth examining and emulating.

There have been and continue to be tremendous challenges to overcome, but there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere … Again leaving the financials aside for now, which new journalism efforts are getting interest and traction with audiences, critics, advertisers / media planners / buyers?

Place your bets -

It’s reasonable* to expect a harder look at some of these and make some bets. Who has been rising to the challenges? Who is doing Good Work out there in the news space? Call it.

(* – and self-serving, yes: but I’m not the only “self” in this equation.)

The pie’s smaller. The business model is disrupted. The audience is fragmented and – mostly, at the moment – don’t care about quality (“Really, Wall St. Journal, you want to charge me to see this article about Goldman Sachs? BobAndDougSaveMainSt.com has a Goldman article for free …”). There is ZERO impedence to switching / ~zero brand loyalty.

Straddling the fence and saying “Hmm; interesting – wonder what’ll happen?” isn’t an appropriate position to take in 2010. Again, the jury’s generally out where financial success is concerned; but what of non-financial success? Who’s doing things of interest? If even only opinions, I’d like to see them stated: “These folks are producing quality work; these others are accelerating the race to the bottom.” There’s art and science out there to be meaningfully critiqued – Call it. (Please)


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    About Me

    I've been building web stuff (pardon the argot) since ~1994. Since we started up, I've lead technology for True / Slant. I spent the previous 8 years working with the magazines and web properties of Condé Nast; the last 18 months of that were working on parade.com and with their hundreds of newspaper partners. Before that I built cool products and businesses for About.com, Prodigy and IBM.

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